By Doug Cunningham
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney is delivering an important address to the UN Summit On Climate Risk today. Sweeney will call for green jobs and greater awareness of global warming’s impact on working people around the world. Sweeney will join Al Gore and a diverse group of interests to discuss what needs to happen to stop the accelerated impact of global warming. Sweeney says global prosperity cannot be achieved and maintained unless we secure a stable climate and sustainable energy.
By Doug Cunningham
A moratorium on industrial loan charter bank applications ended this month – which means Wal-Mart could be back in the hunt to establish a Bank of Wal-Mart. Allowing retailers and manufacturers to get into banking could harm the working poor, according to a number of economic experts and consumer activists. A U.S. Senate bill would permanently block commercial retailers like Wal-Mart from getting industrial loan charters to start banks. It’s generally considered a good idea to keep commerce and banking separate due to inherent conflicts of interest that could end up getting the working poor in over their heads.
The state of Wisconsin has become a major battleground between the two democrats vying for the Presidency. Illinois Senator Barack Obama fired the first salvo on Wednesday. Jesse Russell reports from Wisconsin.
Senator Barack Obama took time to hit back at critics at an auto plant in Janesville Wisconsin on Wednesday. The Illinois Senator currently battling former First Lady Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Presidential nomination laid out his economic plan before members of the United Auto Workers union. He took Clinton head on in his speech criticizing her for supporting President Bill Clinton’s passing of the North American Free Trade Agreement:
A leadership delegation of striking miners from a Grupo Mexico copper mine in Sonora, Mexico, and the United Steelworkers (USW) today asked members of Congress to withhold a $1.4 billion funding package for Mexico’s security forces proposed by the Bush administration until congressional public hearings are held to investigate use of the police and military to violently crush a six-month-old mine strike over unsafe conditions.
Says USW President Leo Gerard:
Mexico cannot be allowed to violate workers’ human rights with impunity under the pretense of securing borders and combating narco-trafficking. The attack on the Cananea miners is just the most recent in a series of repressive actions by the Mexican government.
A delegation of AFL-CIO leaders to Colombia wound up a two-day fact-finding trip today by telling Colombian President Alvaro Uribe the U.S. union movement cannot support the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement until real progress is made to protect the lives and rights of trade union members.
AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Emerita Linda Chavez-Thompson, Communications Workers of America (CWA) President Larry Cohen and United Steelworkers (USW) counsel Dan Kovalik met over the past two days with Colombian union leaders, International Labor Organization representatives in Colombia and elected leaders.
They found Colombia’s unionists still operate in a climate of fear in the country, where 38 trade unionists were murdered in 2007. They also ascertained the government has systematically undermined union members’ rights while exerting little effort to address the murders of Colombian trade unionists, despite some new government initiatives.
The Bush administration once again is forcing public safety to take a back seat to short-sighted budget cuts. Severe cutbacks among correctional officers in federal prisons are endangering prison inmates, staff and the general public, according to AFGE, a nationwide union of federal employees, including 26,000 federal prison workers.
Today, members of the AFGE Council of Prison Locals held an informational picket in freezing rain outside the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, D.C. Says council President Bryan Lowry:
We want to raise awareness at DOJ that the Bureau of Prisons is underfunded and if this continues, we won’t be able to keep the prisons secure.
Voters are turning out in record numbers for the presidential primaries this year—and driving them in large part is their worry and anger about an economic recession, home foreclosures, stagnating wages, unaffordable health care and their vanishing freedom to improve their lives by joining unions.
But turnout at the polls, said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, also shows voters are ready to “turn around America.”
Speaking last night at a Harvard University forum, Sweeney said:
We should all take heart in the monster voter turnout in the primaries. It is proving that when angry, hopeful people get together and stand together, we can truly make America different.
Television and movie writers are returning to work following a vote yesterday to end the strike. After more than three months on the picket lines, the writers won their demands for a fair share of the revenue when their work is distributed through new media such as the Internet and DVDs.
The vote to end the strike garnered 92 percent support from the writers, who agreed to end the strike prior to a ratification vote later this month on the proposed contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The writers are members of the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) and Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW).
Union members made up 24 percent of the Democratic primary vote in Maryland yesterday, continuing the strong union household turnout demonstrated in last week’s Super Tuesday elections. In Virginia, where union density is low, exit polls showed union households chalked up an impressive 14 percent of the Democratic primary vote. (Exit polls were not taken in Washington, D.C., and Republican exit polling did not include a question about union membership.)
Fifty-eight percent of Maryland union members voted for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), with Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) getting 37 percent of the union vote. In Virginia, Obama received 63 percent of the union vote, compared with 36 percent for Clinton, similar to his statewide results.